Thursday, May 31

Feminism and the sex-workers’ rights movement

The criminalization of sex workers prevents them from accessing social protection and contributes to grave human-rights abuses of sex workers. This criminalization explains why sex workers are too often exploited, beaten, raped and killed.

Lobbies to amend, repeal, or reform prostitution law have had a vibrant presence since the 1970s. When sex workers began organizing for decriminalization in the 1970s, the term ‘sex worker’ rather than ‘prostitute’ was used to define their movement.

The sex-workers’ rights movement is not without its opponents. Among the most vocal sources of opposition are feminist abolitionists who view sex work as an inherent exploitation of the body and sex workers as victims with little agency. These feminists typically oppose decriminalization and concentrate on the eradication of sex work entirely. This perspective has posed grave difficulty for sex workers attempting to seek their rights. Many of the policy reforms that feminist abolitionists propose also criminalize sex workers and their clients, and perpetuate a cycle of abuse and exploitation. This perspective, at best, excludes sex workers, and, at worst, results in policies that impact negatively on sex workers’ lives and work. Whereas the majority of the mainstream feminist movement (including abolitionists and other liberal women’s groups) is seeking to end the exploitation they see as sex work, sex workers and other feminists are seeking to end exploitative conditions in sex work caused by dangerous working conditions and oppressive legislative contexts.

LINK: Complete article at the Dominion

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